Picture : Hollie Doyle
Sky Sports Racing’s ambassador is aboard her multiple G1 winner Nashwa in the Irish Champion plus King’s Stand hero Bradsell in the Flying Five this weekend.
NASHWA IN GREAT SHAPE FOR IRISH CHAMPION CHALLENGE
Do you ever wish you could be in two places at the same time? Well, that’s exactly how I’ll be feeling on Saturday when two of my best horses do battle at the highest level – but in different countries.
I’d love to maintain my partnership with Wokingham winner Saint Lawrence in the Group 1 Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock Park following his near miss in France last month, but I’m off to Ireland instead.
I’ve ridden my Classic-winning heroine NASHWA in all her 13 career starts and wouldn’t miss her latest assignment in a stellar renewal of the Group 1 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown (3.20) for the world.
For only the second time in her life she takes on the boys after posting such a gigantic effort in splitting this season’s powerhouses Mostahdaf and Paddington the £1million Juddmonte International at York last month.
My boss Imad Alsagar’s faith in Nashwa never wavers and he was keen to let her take her chance in this race after producing such a brave performance on the Knavesmire.
I popped into John and Thady Gosden’s Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket last week to put her through her paces in a solo spin on the gallops and she gave me a lovely feel. She really has come out of York in great shape.
She’ll need to be at her best for such a mouth-watering clash with dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, the Royal Ascot winner who was a close second to Aidan O’Brien’s colt at Epsom, but she should enjoy the track, underfoot conditions should be perfect and I’m happy with my draw in stall six.
HOPING TO GO ONE BETTER ON DARKNESS
I finished a close second in a valuable race at Epsom’s Derby meeting on DARKNESS who can hopefully go one better for me in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap (5.40).
David O’Meara’s five-year-old seems to have turned over a new leaf since being ridden more prominently and it was no surprise to see him win a 1m handicap at Newmarket in July. He’s ground-versatile and has won over 7f, too, so shouldn’t be troubled by the intermediate trip.
In the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap (5.05), I’ve picked up the ride on Eoin O’Neill’s NO NIKI NO , who steps up in trip but stayed well in France and won at Leopardstown on good ground back in June.
STIFFER TEST TAILOR-MADE FOR BRADSELL
I’m really excited to be back on my Royal Ascot winner BRADSELL in Sunday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Flying Five Stakes (2.55) at the Curragh.
This Group 1 looks tailor-made for him. He proved in winning the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Meeting that a stiff 5f suits him best and that’s what he faces on Sunday.
He renews rivalry with Highfield Princess, who was behind him at Ascot and just in front of him in the Nunthorpe. Though he ran a great race to be third at York, the fast five there didn’t help his chances so I’m hopeful we can turn the tables.
Former jockey Mike Murphy rides Bradsell in most of his work at Archie Watson’s Saxon Gate Stables and has been delighted with him in the build-up to this race.
SUMMERGHAND RE-MATCH FOR ALBASHEER
If he’s in the right mood, ALBASHEER can prove hard to beat in the valuable Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap (1.50) at the Curragh on Sunday.
He bounced back to form to dead-heat with the remarkable Summerghand in a Class 2 handicap at York last month and is set to renew rivalry on identical terms.
Like a lot of good sprinters, Albasheer needs all the cards to fall right, but Archie clearly has him in fine fettle and the stiff 6f should bring the best out of him.
BETTER GROUND IDEAL FOR SAINT LAWRENCE
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the action at Haydock Park when SAINT LAWRENCE lines up in the Group 1 Betfair Sprint Cup (3.35) on Saturday.
Archie’s revitalised five-year-old has given me two great days this summer, winning the Wokingham on his stable debut and then going close in the Group 1 Arc Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.
The ground was desperate that day but with a bit more luck in running he may well have won there. He’s the type of horse who seems to enjoy finding a bit of trouble but if he gets the rub of the green at Haydock he should give Luke Morris a ride to remember.
July Cup winner Shaquille looks the one they all have to beat as long as he doesn’t get upset at the start. Stalls specialist Craig Witheford has done a lot of hard work with him so his trainer Julie Camacho will be praying that everything goes smoothly.
Hollie Doyle was speaking to Sky Sports Racing’s Simon Mapletoft.